At the end of a long week of hiking and exploring Montreal and Quebec City, we wanted a day to relax. I had found a really neat looking Nordic spa online that had great reviews and seemed to be highly recommended by a lot of sites. They have locations in multiple cities but we figured it would be best to visit the one in Quebec as part of our last day’s activities. It ended up not being terribly expensive either, though we did choose one of the cheaper packages. They had some available that had full three-course meals with a glass of wine and a massage included but we didn’t feel like we needed all that.
Unfortunately, this will ultimately be a pictureless post. The company does not allow phones or cameras on the grounds (for obvious reasons. If you have a phone in your hand, you’re not relaxing, if you drop it, they’re not liable for it, other people don’t want photos being taken of them, etc)
This particular spa reminded me a lot of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland because most of the hot options were outdoors though these were not geothermally heated to my knowledge. Being there in the winter was really interesting because it was absolutely frigid outside and there was quite a bit of snow around us. Of course, the water kept us warm but our hair definitely froze. I loved sitting at the edge of the infinity pool looking out over the river and watching the big chunks of ice float slowly by.
The idea of thermal treatment is that it is a cycle of three treatments that you repeat a few times. First, you spend about 15-20 minutes in a heated option such as the outdoor whirlpools or saunas. Then, you’re supposed to try the cold Nordic waterfalls. After that, you’re supposed to relax in one of the areas they have set aside with lounges, chairs, and hammocks. The whole cycle is supposed to promote better sleep, boost the immune system, and relax the body.
The hot options were great. After five days of hiking, climbing stairs, trekking through snow, and cold temperatures, I could feel the tension in my body just melting away. It felt good to just sit in the hot water and close my eyes. The choices were between a heated lazy river, outdoor whirlpools, and an infinity pool at the edge of the river which was my favorite. They also had a large sauna of which one full wall was made up of windows looking out over the river. At every one of these locations, there were signs telling patrons to keep noise levels to a minimum. They also had speakers everywhere you went which helped to relax.
As for the cold options, there was really only the Nordic waterfalls. Honestly, when people talked about not being able to breathe because of cold water, I always thought that was odd until I tried it for myself. The first time I tried the waterfall, I think I stood under it for a total of about two seconds. It was like my lungs refused to take in more than small gasps of air. Every time we went through this part of the thermal cycle, I tried to force myself to stay in the water for the 10-15 seconds recommended. This is so much harder than it sounds and that amount of time feels like an eternity. I always heard that for people who fall through ice into cold water, you’re supposed to breathe through until your body adjusts, which is way easier said than done. Despite sounding crazy, this actually felt good and kind of energizing. Shocking your system in this way is supposed to be great for the immune system.
I’m not usually one to spend time sitting around relaxing when I’m on a trip because I like to see as much as possible. Sometimes though, it’s necessary to take a minute to just take it easy and enjoy a brief respite. Travel can be exhausting. When you see people’s travel stories online and on Instagram, you never get a real sense of just how tired being on the go like that can make you. Don’t get me wrong, every minute of travel is worth the fatigue, but it’s also important to realize when to take a minute to stop and revitalize. At this point in our trip, I had seen everything that was on my list so I didn’t mind taking a few hours to kick back.
Overall, the whole experience was cheaper than I had expected and is definitely one I would repeat when I go back. We both did the thermal experience, spent about three hours there, and each got a bath bomb for later on and only spent about US$50. Even if traveling on a budget, that’s not an exorbitant amount of money and due to the hike to get there and the views you get while relaxing, you’re still soaking up your surroundings!